Haredi author Chaim Walder compared policies and newspaper columns by Finance Minister Yair Lapid with speeches by Hitler, stating that although “those who hate religion do not want to physically destroy hareidi Jews, they have wicked plans…to strip us of basic rights.”
Lapid’s office called Walder’s column “dangerous incitement.”
Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, successfully campaign in the last elections on a platform calling for “equal burden,” meaning that Haredim in Israel should serve in the IDF or do national service, work and pay taxes instead of receiving money to be enrolled at yeshivas.
Since taking the post as Finance Minister, Lapid also has called for eliminating child support benefits, which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu drastically reduced when he was Finance Minister in the Sharon government. His move was one of several actions that pulled the Israeli economy out of the doldrums and helped spawned unprecedented growth and stability.
Other Haredi sites defended Walder’s potshots in his column, pointing out that he did not compared Lapid with Hitler, while non-religious media reported the column in a negative light.
Walder indeed took pains to point out that Lapid does not want to physically kill Jews, but he used a line in a column that Lapid, a journalist, wrote two years ago, and compared his expressions with Hitler’s death wish for Jews.
Lapid, whose late father Tomy Lapid was a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, had written, “Forget ideology; forget that I do not understand how it doesn’t bother you that you live at my expense. I can’t continue paying for it for there is nothing left. I have nothing to give your children and nothing for my own….
“We have to find a way my friend or this will not end well. What does it say in Taanis [in the Talmud], ‘Friendship or death.’” That statement is similar to those of Hitler, according to Walder.
The Haredi writer referred in his column to “someone famous” who insisted Jews must participate in “productive work” to avoid a calamity. After identifying the “famous person” as Hitler, Welder continued, “Those who hate religion don’t want to physically annihilate Haredim” but have “wicked plans regarding quality of life, the ability to live a normal life. To strip us of basic rights like payments, tax discounts, welfare, food for our children… there are even those who speak of taking the freedom to vote, or of leaving Israel, which is true dictatorship.”
Quality of Life?
Haredim argue that life is better if one learns Torah and does not work for a living.
There no statistics to support either side in the argument over how many Haredi men really learn while receiving stipends for learning. Many learn a bit, or not all, and indeed work, receiving money “under the table” without paying taxes.
That does not make them any different from tens of thousands of secular “independents” who also do not pay taxes. They accept payment for work without reporting the revenue when filing tax returns.
But to say it is a basic right to receive benefits for learning Torah and not serve in the army or do national service essentially demands that the government adopt those values and ignore the value taught by Torah sages – learning Torah and also working.
There actually are many Haredim who do both.
For example, Chaim Walder.
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.
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